The Judgment of God

The Heart of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:53
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Intro

I’m going to apologize now. I tried to cut this sermon down but Revelation is literally about Salvation and Judgment.
G.K. Beale in his commentary on Revelation sums up the main idea of the book as this:

SHOW G.K. BEALE QUOTE

“The sovereignty of God and Christ in redeeming and judging brings them glory,
which is intended to motivate saints to worship God and reflect his glorious attributes through obedience to his word.”
He goes on to point to Revelation 14:7 as coming close to summarizing the whole book:
Revelation 14:7 ESV
7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Teaching

In the sermon today we’re going to answer three questions about the judgment of God.
Why does He judge?
How does He Judge?
What is the purpose of His Judgment?
First let’s look at Why God judges.
God’s Judgment is the outpouring of His Wrath/Anger against evil and sin.
It’s tied to His Justice and Knowledge and all His other attributes.
To understand these attributes of God we need to understand somethings first. An attribute is a quality or characteristic of someone.
God’s attributes can be divided into two categories: Incommunicable and Communicable.

God’s Attributes: Incommunicable and Communicable

(Grudem, Wayne. “The Character of God: “Incommunicable” Attributes” in Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Second Edition. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI) 2020, 185-218.)
Incommunicable attributes are the qualities that are true of God only.
God does not share or “communicate” these attributes to humans.
Examples: Eternity, Unchangeableness, Omnipresence
He doesn’t share these with us.
Communicable
These attributes God shares or “communicates” to us
Example: Love, Knowledge, Mercy, Justice
These are all attributes humans have as well.
God’s attributes are different ways to see God’s total character or being.
His justices isn’t contrary to His love.
His Mercy isn’t the other side of Wrath.

SHOW WAYNE GRUDEM UNITY SLIDE

“God himself is a unity, a unified and completely integrated whole person who is infinitely perfect in all of these attributes.” (Grudem 213)
As we look at God’s Wrath or Anger we must understand that it is different than ours.
(Humans vs God’s Wrath/Anger (Duvall 140))
Human anger/wrath is often impulsive. We don’t control our anger. We often have the wrong motives.
Can you remember when you lost it?!? For all the wrong reasons?!? We all have.
Maybe you were furious about something someone did or said only to find out later that they didn’t say it or they said something that was completely different that what you thought. You didn’t KNOW the information was wrong.
God’s Wrath/Anger is different.
God’s wrath is always controlled. He is always justified in His anger because He knows all, even the intentions of our hearts!
He sees everything, is everywhere, and knows all!
God’s wrath is His intentional condemnation of sin and evil.
His wrath is based on two other attributes that we can share in: holiness and righteousness.

1. God judges because He is holy and righteous.

So what we mean when we say Holy and Righteous?
You ever know how to use a word but then you are unable to give a definition when asked?
I know Holy means set apart and righteousness is linked with justice but we need to understand these in terms of Who God is.
(Grudem, Wayne. “The Character of God: “Communicable” Attributes (Part 1)” in Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Second Edition. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI) 2020, 218-251.)
Holy (Great discussion - Hawthorn, G.F. “Holy” in Dictionary of the Later NT (Inter Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL) 1997, 485-489.)
Wayne Grudem gives us an excellent definition of Holiness:

SHOW WAYNE GRUDEM: HOLY SLIDE

God’s holiness means that he is separate from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor. (Grudem 240)
God is separated from sin and evil, but He is devoted to the good of His own honor and glory.
This holiness makes sense because God is what gives good its goodness, sin by definition is separate from God.
Someday all things, including us, believers, on earth will be separate from evil, cleansed from sin, and devoted to God. (Grudem 242)
We’ll be holy as He is holy.
Righteous (Great discussion - Newman, C.C. “Righteous” in Dictionary of the Later NT (Inter Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL ) 1997, 1053-1059.)
Again Wayne Grudem is helpful:

SHOW WAYNE GRUDEM: RIGHTEOUS SLIDE

God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.” (Grudem 243)
In both the language of the OT, Hebrew and Greek in the NT righteousness is the same word as justice.
SO what is right? What ought to happen? The answer is whatever conforms to God’s moral character is right! (Grudem 244)
Revelation gives us a number of places where we can see God’s holiness and righteousness on display.
God’s Judgement flows out of his character.
Revelation 4:1–8 ESV
1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
The repeat of Holy three times is designed to emphasize the utter holiness of God. Biblical writers repeat things for emphases.
There may be a subtle reference to the Trinitarian nature of God, He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God exists in three persons, each fully God and God is one.
God’s character provides the basis for His condemnation in Rev 15-16.
Revelation 15:2–4 ESV
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Out of God’s holiness His judgment comes in the next few verse:
Revelation 15:5–8 ESV
5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
Look just the next chapter over in Rev 16 after these plagues are poured out to see again God’s holiness and righteousness are the reasons these judments come.
Revelation 16:5–7 ESV
5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”
God judges because He is holy and righteous.
He’s Holy: separate from sin and devoted to His own honor.
He’s Righteous: the final standard of what is right.
Because He is holy and righteous, he will judge evil and reward His people with His presence. (Duvall 143)
This is why God judges.
Now let’s look at two ways God carries out his judgment.

2. God judges passively and actively.

Let’s take at these one at a time.
First, God judges passively through the consequences of sin and by allowing evil to devour one another.
Let’s look at some verses.
In Revelation 6 Jesus, the Worthy Lamb Who was slain is going to open the seven seals of the scroll that God was holding in the previous chapter.
Now this scroll represents God’s “plan for judging evil, redeeming His people, and transforming creation.” (Duvall 142)
As Jesus opens the scroll, John sees Four Horsemen. If you want to know definitively what each horseman represents talk to Pastor Matt after the service. Just Kidding! I did write a ridiculously long paper on who the first horseman in Revelation 6:2.
The horseman I want to focus on is the forth horseman in Rev 6:7-8
Revelation 6:7–8 ESV
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
The fourth horseman is Death, with Hades following him.
We see in Genesis 3:19 that part of the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin is death:
Genesis 3:19 ESV
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
This forth horseman encompasses all the evils of this world: the sword—which is war, famine—leads to starvation, pestilence—sickness and disease, and finally, wild beasts—the enmity between people and wild animals after the flood. See Genesis 9:2ff to see this new relationship.
Look at Revelation 17:1, to see evil to devour one another.
Revelation 17:1 ESV
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters,
How does God judge the great prostitute? God allows the beast to attack and destroy her.
Revelation 17:16–17 ESV
16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
God allows the Beast to carry out what the Beast wants at the same time as he carries out God’s will.
You’ve probably heard John 10:10
John 10:10 ESV
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
The thief is Satan and he hasn’t come only for believers, He wants to steal, kill, and destroy all people, because we have the Image of God with in us.
Turn back to Revelation 2:18:
Revelation 2:18–23 ESV
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
God allows rebellious sinners to go their own way—the way of death.
God’s judgment is not only passive.
In Revelation we see God’s active Judgment as well.
He judges based off the prayers of His people according to the evil done.
When the fifth seal is opened in Revelation 6 the saints cry out for God’s judgment:
Revelation 6:9–10 ESV
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Revelation 8:3-5 see God answering their cries and to all the cries since the call out for injustice:
Revelation 8:3–5 ESV
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Quote: “This vision tells us that God most certainly hears the cries of his people for justice and deliverance. The prayers ascend to God, and his judgment descends to the earth.” ( Duvall 147)
Jesus taught us in His model prayer to pray:
Matthew 6:10 ESV
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The answer to all of these prayers in enacted in Revelation 8.
This active judgment of God is seen in the Seven Trumpets which mirror some of the plagues in Egypt when God rescued His people at that time.
In Revelation 11, the Two Witnesses, aka the Church bringing God’s judgment through their message.
As we proclaim the truth in love, the message confronts the rebellions world.
In Revelation 18-19 we see the funeral lament standing in contrast to the rejoicing of God’s people.
In Rev 18:9-19 the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over Babylon.
Babylon represents a type and pattern for all kingdoms and cities opposed to God. (Schriener, Thomas R. “Revelation” in ESV Expository Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews–Revelation. (Crossway: Wheaton, IL) 2018, 527-754, 703.)
In contrast we see in Rev 18:20-19:5 God’s people rejoicing over Babylon’s downfall.
They are not delighting in the suffering of sinners, but they are celebrating God’s righteous and Holy judgment.
The why: God judges because He is Holy and Righteous.
How does God judge?
Passively by letting sin and evil take its course.
Actively in relation to the salvation of His people.
There is more to the answer of How God judges.

3. God judges with patience according to works.

Let’s start with God’s patience.
There are three sets of Judgment in Revelation, each has seven parts. We’ve looked at a couple of them but here’s a list with them all laid out:

SHOW THREE SETS OF JUDGMENT SLIDE

Seven Seals (Rev. 6:1-17, 8:1)
Seven Trumpets (Rev. 8:7-9:21, 11:14-19)
Seven Bowls of Wrath (Rev. 16:1-21)
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute Wesley, How do these judgments show God’s patience?!?”
I’m glad you asked:
Each judgment is meant to turn the people in repentance.
Notice how in the Seven Seals, Death and Hades are given authority over only a forth the earth:
Revelation 6:8 ESV
8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Now in the Seven Trumpets the number has increased to a third:
Revelation 9:18–21 ESV
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
God has not YET destroyed all the workers of evil, this is mercy, He didn’t give them what they rightful deserved.
These judgments are to turn the hard hearts of mankind in repentance because God is patient.
Look at Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:9
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
The Seven Bowls mark the final judgments on the earth before the Final battle between the Lamb and Satan.
Before we look at the final battle we see in Rev 14, Jesus is saving His people the “wheat” from the Wrath to come in the Seven Bowls, but another angel is harvesting the unbelievers, the “grapes”.
In Revelation 19:15 we read this:
Revelation 19:15 ESV
15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
In Revelation 19:11-21 we see the climax of Judgment and the return of Christ!
Look at how it ends:
Revelation 19:19–21 ESV
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
The Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire.
THe rest of those gathered were slain by the sword in Jesus’s mouth!
I know somewhere, someone is getting this scene tattooed on their back right now!
What a victorious depiction of our Warrior Christ!
In Revelation 20:7-10 we see that Satan and his army suffer the same fate:
Revelation 20:7–10 ESV
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Both of these great battles are anticlimactic.
God is all powerful, evil will gather to war against Him and God will simply execute His judgment.
Right after this we see the last part of How God judges by works.
“Alright Wesley I see how these judgments point to God’s patience now, but God is judging based off works?!? Come on! What about what Paul says in Eph 2:8-9?”
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
I purposely worded it that way to get you all riled up!
James 2:14 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
James 2:24 ESV
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
God does judge on works. I’ll prove it:
Revelation 20:11–15 ESV
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The word “done” is the greek work ἔργον It means work, deed, action. It’s the same word Paul uses and James uses.
Before you get too agitated or someone else misunderstands the gospel let me clear it up.
Everyone will be judged by one of two kinds of works.
You can choose to present you good deeds and all the works you did in this life.
Or you can place your faith and trust in Jesus, letting His works stand in your place.
Christ’s Works lead to Salvation, Our Works lead to judgment.
Jesus has already faced the judgment for our evil works.
Romans 8:1–4 ESV
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
God is Holy and Righteous.
He is judging sin through consequences and He will call all to repentance through His judgments.
He is patient with mankind.
He will judge us based on our works apart from Christ or our faith in Christ’s works apart from our works.
Ultimately, what does God desire His judgments to bring about? Repentance.

4. God desires repentance not judgment.

Hebrews 10:30-31 says:
Hebrews 10:30–31 ESV
30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
For those of us in Christ our judgment has already been paid for.
In Romans 8:1-4 that we read above the word condemnation in the greek contains the word judgment we’ve been studying.
When Paul finishes this section he says this in Romans 8:34
Romans 8:34 ESV
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
We could read it this way:
Who is to judge? Christ who died to take our judgment and rose to give us new life with God the Father and the Holy Spirit?
God desires our repentance. Look at these declarations of the Lord in the OT:
Ezekiel 18:23 ESV
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 33:11 ESV
11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
I’ll leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis:

SHOW C.S. LEWIS QUOTE

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’
All that are in Hell, choose it.”
If you are here today and have not placed your faith in Jesus, you will face judgment.
A separation from God forever in Hell, the place of torment.
The Apostle Paul tells us plainly what we must do to be saved:
Romans 10:9–10 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
You may think that this invitation can’t be for you, Paul knew you might think that so he includes the next verses:
Romans 10:11–13 ESV
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
If you want to place your faith in Jesus pray now and confess Him as Lord and believe in His resurrection.
Come talk to one of us after the service and we’ll introduce you to Jesus.

Communion

The resurrection that Paul talks about in Romans 10:9 is what we celebrate today.
Romans 10:9 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you have not believed that Jesus is raised, don’t take part in this celebration, but carefully consider who Jesus is and what He’s done for you.
If you have believed it then take time now to thank Him for all He’s done and confess anything you have done that doesn’t line up with His holiness and righteousness.
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